TODAY -

Hunger

Chingkheinganba Thangjam *



Western fast food restaurant chains do very well in India and I absolutely love their innovative burger ideas although burgers as my idea of good food - not so much. Still, sometimes, you can pretty much have the whole world on your tray: a bit of Mexico, a hint of Morrocco, cushioned between Indian masala. I prefer home-cooked meals - well, who doesn't? But my line of work doesn't allow me the luxury of partaking more than one such meal per day, and so I inevitably rely on fast food. Healthy or not is a different question.

So, I walk up to the counter and say, "Mmmm. That new burger looks nice. Can I have one with some fries please? Oh, and one lemon soda as well please. Please charge this card."

I take a seat right in front of the counter. I try to hide my ferocious hunger and impatience by pretending to be doing something really important on my phone; I'm actually just flicking through my apps without even looking at the screen.

The man at the counter had said it's going to take five minutes for my food to be ready. I look at the time. Only three minutes have passed. I start counting the seconds. Not convinced that the clock on my phone is actually working, I go into the settings, turn on the second hand and shake my phone - if something is ticking, it is definitely working. This doesn't help so I stop looking. I stop counting.

I'm perfectly still now. I'm not thinking of the burger and fries. I'm not thinking of anything. But, I'm hungry. So very hungry like a polar bear just out of extended hibernation. Polar bears remind me of Billy Connolly but let's not talk about that now - I'm very hungry.

My food is ready! I run to get it. For a second, I ask myself if it's appropriate to kiss the restaurant man's cheek or something to express my heartfelt gratitude but I realise eating is more important right now so I run back to my table with my tray.

I mow down half the fries first, wash it all down with some soda and eye the burger. It's dripping all sorts of yummy juices. I can see fresh lettuce sticking out like a beautiful woman's green satin skirt from under a mound of brown blankets left behind after a night of frenzied passion.

"God damn it! Why am I teasing myself like this? Eat the burger already!"

I take a huge bite and realise this is literally biting off more than I can chew. I can't breath. I'm about to choke. I reach for the soda but there's no space in my mouth to accommodate any more food - liquid or otherwise. I'm going to die. Wait! I can't die like this. This is not my idea of dying. There must be something I can do. Yes! Anaconda! Exactly!

So, I try to swallow it whole. This doesn't work so I calm myself down instead and work my lower jaw with my hand to try and break the burger chunk down. This works and now I'm starting to feel the almost divine taste of this wonderful culinary invention. My eyes close voluntarily as if I'm being given fellatio by an expert. Yes, this is what food does to you.

With choking no longer a threat to my life, I feel good and I'm now thoroughly enjoying my food. In my mind, I'm saying, "Mmmm. Oh yes. This is so good!"

Since hunger itself is also no more a concern, I start to feel more human in terms of etiquette or table manner, if you like. All primeval desires have now gone. I'm still relishing my burger and fries, occasionally sipping lemon soda but I'm also casually looking around with a faint smile of satisfaction on my face, trying to connect with the world around me.

At a corner of the restaurant, there is a man standing. He is looking at me while picking his nose - and he's eating it.


* Chingkheinganba Thangjam wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at chingkheinganba(dot)thangjam(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was posted on March 21, 2015.


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